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How to Teach Fractions

by Jason Gibson


There are many ways how to teach fractions, and the success or failure of the student to understand fractions will depend on the teaching method used.  The methods outlined below to teach fractions have been proven to be easy for the student to grasp, and easy for every math teacher to implement.


It's been said that if a student understands fractions, then they can understand any mathematics concept.  It is then very important for every math teacher to know how to teach fractions in the most approachable way possible.

How to Teach Fractions Tip #1 - Explain every fraction in terms of pizzas to make fractions familiar.
When deciding on a method of how to teaching fractions, we need to use fractional analogies that the student will immediately recognize.  Thus enters the pizza as the perfect instrument needed to teach the concept of the fraction.

How to Teach Fractions Tip #2 - Explain the numerator and the denominator until every student understands.
Students will never understand how to add or subtract a fraction until they truly understand the concept of a fraction.  Use fractions that every student understands.  For example, take the fraction:

Take the time to explain that this fraction represents a pizza that has been cut into two pieces, but you only have one of the pieces.  The numerator of the fraction is the top number and the denominator of the fraction is the bottom number.  Always keep in mind that using the best methods of how to teach fractions involves moving very slowly, giving multiple examples involving fractions until every student is comfortable.  Use familiar examples involving fractions such as 1/4, 1/3, and 3/4 to reinforce the concept of what a fraction is.


How to Teach Fractions Tip #3 - Draw lots of pictures of fractions.
Children are visual learners and the best technique of how to teach fractions involves drawing pictures of fractions.  For example, take the fraction:

This fraction can be best described by drawing a pizza cut into four pieces, but you only have three of the pieces such as in this picture of the fraction:



Other fractions can also be visually taught in this way.  For example, if we cut a pizza into 10 pieces but we only have 7 pieces, we can teach the fraction as follows:



How to Teach Fractions Tip #4 - Ensure that you teach fraction simplification slowly and thoroughly.
Most students have a very hard time understanding the concept of equivalent fractions, otherwise known as fraction simplifcation.  The best way how to teach fraction simplication is to show pictures of many such fractions that we know to be equivalent.  For example, we know that:

For a student who is new to learning fractions, this concept can seen very hard to understand.  As always, when it comes to how to teach fractions, pictures are almost always the superior teaching tool.  To show how these fractions are equivalent, we draw each case separately.  The teacher can then show the student that the fraction 2/4 is "two out of four pieces" and that 1/2 is "one out of two pieces".  It is a very powerful method of teaching fractions to show visually how these two fractions represent the exact same amount of pizza:



In conclusion, learning how to teach fractions in the best way possible is very much worth the teachers time because when we form a good foundation in the essentials of fractions, it will make the future topics much easier to understand.  The student will then have a good foundation in fractions to understand how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions without problems.  And by using the methods outlined above, the teacher will know how to teach fractions to the student in the most approachable way possible.

Jason Gibson is the founder of You can view his extensive background and education here.

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